TRUSU AGM marks another year, raises issues

If you missed it last week, here are the highlights of TRUSU’s AGM

It was a small crowd for the TRUSU annual general meeting last week. Forty-seven students (including TRUSU directors and student caucus members) gathered by Common Grounds on Jan. 28 to hear TRUSU’s account of 2013-14.

Student engagement centre stage

Students are going to have more say in how TRU is run if the student caucus gets its way, members heard.

This will be the first year TRU students get a chance to weigh in on the university’s budget before it is passed. A survey measuring student priorities will go out in the next few weeks, with a town hall to follow. The information will then be presented to TRU administration and taken into account in the final budget.

TRUSU president Dylan Robinson called the policy an “unparalleled opportunity for students to get involved in institutional budgeting.”

“At no other institution that I’m aware of do students have such a direct relationship with budgeting, and it’s been really great to work with administrators who are taking this process very seriously,” he said.

It is not yet clear what will be asked on the survey or how it will be distributed.

Other highlights from the caucus included the new parking rates in 2014 ($4 for the day in Lot N and a half-day rate in Lot E) and the reallocation of the Comprehensive University Enhancement Fund (CUEF).

Starting this spring, one-third of the fund (which is fed through student fees) will merge with current TRUSU grants. Another third will fund undergraduate research, while the last will remain with administration for capital investment.

TRUSU reported a budget surplus of $55,528 for 2013-14, down from $79,642 the year before. The extra money was rolled into the current budget.

Coffee shop woes

One of the few questions posed by members at the Jan. 28 meeting was in regards to high prices at Common Grounds.

The budget for Common Grounds has taken a hit for the second year in a row, a fact that is partly due to a drop in revenues as the student-run coffee shop vies with more food services on campus, members heard. In particular, increased competition from Starbucks has been identified in previous TRUSU board meetings.

“We always want to make sure that we’re running Common Grounds effectively, sustain- ably,” said Ryan Makar, TRUSU vice-president of finance. “So we’re definitely going to be looking at that data and saying ‘How can we improve? How can we make the service better for student and provide students the most variety?’”

When asked about the union’s plans for Common Grounds, Makar stated there are no specific changes in the works, but the services committee will be evaluating the coffee shop.

When asked if TRUSU will be speaking to Aramark, the company that supplies food services across campus, Makar said it was a possibility, but stressed that TRUSU and Aramark are not in competition with each other.

“Some days students want to have a pizza. Common Grounds doesn’t offer pizza for a number of reasons. Some days they want a wrap or quinoa salad or something, and Common Grounds does offer those things,” Makar said.

Student savers

Over 60 business are now offering discounts to TRU students and they are about to get more visible.

TRUSU has begun distributing window stickers to Studentsaver businesses to better identify them from the street.

Six businesses have joined on since November, while the Blazers decided not to participate in the program after their agreement ended in August.

A complete list of Studentsaver discounts, as well as meeting minutes and budget information, can be found on trusu.ca.